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Fijian food made in traditional earth oven.

Finding a restaurant that offers indegenous cusines can be tricky in Suva's CBD.

There is one tucked away at the end of the alley that hosts the popular betting crib Grant Waterhouse, hardly a place one would expect a classy restaurant to be.

But that's where it is as I can see my companion fidgeting a little as we wound our way past the betting house filled with Fijian old men squinting hopefully at the scoreboards.

As we climbed the stairs, my friend asks anxiously: "Are you sure this is where it is?" I said: "Yes, I am sure."

Then he began to relax when we entered the well-decorated interior and the smell of freshly cooked lolo filled the air.

The owner of the restaurant greeted us warmly and waved us to a table already lined with a handful of Fijian dishes.

In the city, one cannot find Fijian cuisines so well prepared, particularly in a small restaurant like the Indigenous Restaurant which is actually run by indigenous Fijians.

Where there are Fijian foods, they are mostly prepared for commercial purposes and what you often get are less than authentic versions of Fijian dishes.

I explain to my friend as we sit and tuck into the hearty meal. There is wacipoki, which consists of rourou in lolo (coconut milk), stuffed with tuna. My friend's eyes widened as he put a spoonful into his mouth.

"Wow, this is lovely," he exclaimed. "What is it?" I explained to him as we started on the bowl of mussels drenched in coconut milk.

"People from Lau call it wacipoki. It is basically rourou (dalo leaves) with stuffing, usually seafood but nowadays, many use tinned fish or tuna.

It is wrapped up very delicately and cooked in lolo or coconut milk." My friend gulped another spoonful. "Really delicious," he commented and eyed the other dishes on the table.

We had specifically asked for something quite Fijian and Fijian was what we got - a handful of dishes cooked in coconut-milk or lolo.

There was young beech-de-mer in lolo, aubergine in lolo, finely chopped mussels and baby corn in lolo, raw fish or kokoda which is basically diced fish soaked in lemon juice and hot chilli until the fish is cooked in the heat.

Then more lolo is added for taste. The odd one out was a chunk of garnished roast chicken. We hardly touched it. I commented to my friend in between mouthfuls that coconut milk figured prominently in the Fijian diet.

Rythm

 

 

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